LA Auto Show: New Concepts and Hybrids

The Los Angeles Auto Show, held Nov. 16-25 in Los Angeles, Calif., had a decidedly “green” cast, following the trend of other big auto shows of 2007. Keynote speaker Alan Mulally, president and CEO of Ford Motor Co., said that Ford will give 20 plug-in hybrid electric automobiles to a California power company by the

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The Los Angeles Auto Show, held Nov. 16-25 in Los Angeles, Calif., had a decidedly “green” cast, following the trend of other big auto shows of 2007. Keynote speaker Alan Mulally, president and CEO of Ford Motor Co., said that Ford will give 20 plug-in hybrid electric automobiles to a California power company by the end of this year to help test the vehicles’ commercial viability. Over the next five years, Ford plans to put the technology in a wide variety of its 4- and 6-cylinder vehicles worldwide, with more details forthcoming within a few months.

The biggest news at the show might have been the unveiling of Honda’s fuel cell-powered car, now dubbed the FCX Clarity. The company says the car will be available for sale next summer. The show’s annual collection of concepts included the space up! retro minivan by Volkswagen, with solar panels in the roof and a hydrogen-electric hybrid power plant. Prospects for production with the innovative power system appear dim, however, according to sources that were in attendance at the prepublic viewing on Nov. 14.

On the material side, SABIC Innovative Plastics (formerly GE Plastics, Pittsfield, Mass.) introduced its “Design without Sacrifices” program, intended to demonstrate the advantages of using high-performance composites and thermoplastics to mold complex three-dimensional parts without sacrificing performance, safety or environmental responsibility. SABIC has committed to bring the message to designers through global design contests, support for students and customer support across the globe. The company illustrated the program’s potential by introducing the Hyundai QarmaQ to the North American audience. The car was previously unveiled at the Geneva Motor Show in March (see “Related Content,” at left). QarmaQ’s hood, doors, lighting components and energy absorbers are constructed using fiberglass-reinforced resin made with upcycled PET plastic bottles.